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post-trip packing evaluation: not bad, room for improvement

essentials: couldn't have done withoutIn case it's not obvious, I am indeed one of those people who is driven to unpack the suitcase upon arrival and move clothes into drawers, line up shoes in the closet, create a little display indicating that This New Place is home for now.  

It's like my thing with making the bed first thing every day.  It just needs to happen.

I fought it for a long time, aware that it makes me one of Those People, those weirdos who take the 10 minutes to move into the hotel room -- okay, maybe twenty, including scanning the resource binder by the telephone -- instead of sprinting instantly for the pool-side bar, but whatevs, I accept this nest-y part of me.

On the flip side, I am also strongly in favor of instantly unpacking the suitcase upon return home, which I didn't do this time.  That big-ass suitcase sat there at the foot of the bed, reproaching me for my laziness for two days, but I had a plan.  I wanted to make sure I had enough time for a solid post-trip packing evaluation.

I love the process of unpacking as much as the packing.  It's such a helpful little exercise.

What could I learn? What did I do well, what could I do better? Could I have -- since this is clearly a value -- travelled lighter, smaller?

This trip I borrowed a suitcase larger than mine from my parents, since I wanted to be sure to have enough space.  We were going to be in the mountains at a time of iffy weather, so there were a fair number of options that had to be covered: rain gear, for example; hiking boots and attire; a yoga mat in case the urge struck me; heels in case an occasion or mood called for them; a skirt in case I got tired of jeans.  I filled that sucker.  Arriving at SFO at departure, I managed to squeak in just under the 50-pound limit -- still, that seemed really heavy.

I don't know why it bugs me to be carrying a lot of stuff, really.  Or why it seems somehow better to travel with a small bag, a bag I could stow in the overhead (with help) if the need arose.  I don't know where this comes from, but it's a strong drive.  One I ignored this time.

Anyway, I finally had time to unpack leisurely and assess-fully this morning. 

Grade? B.

Not my best work.  Not bad, but not great, either.  Definitely some over-pack.

It is not lost on you, I hope, that B in my way of thinking is not a good grade.  It's OK.  But typically, only the A is good. It's a hard law, but one I live by.

Anyway, for next time I travel to the Pyrenees in October-November when rain and snow are possible and most everything is shut down between summer and winter seasons, this is what I've learned:

demerits: evidence of over-pack!- it was definitely a good idea to bring the Patagonia down sweater, the lightweight rain jacket and the Athleta long-sleeve t-shirt that I bought a few days before departure.  I got the most mileage out of those items.  It was both cold and rainy, and I think I wore that Athleta shirt at least four times.  Their sizing is nutters, by the way.  I don't know how this shirt is a Small -- so roomy -- but OK.

- it's silly to travel with three pairs of jeans - total overkill.  Two is max, and I probably could have gotten away with just 1.  Ditto on the skirt and the tights and the heels.  I lived in the same uniform basically day-in, day-out: jeans, black t-shirt, sweater or down, scarf, rain jacket.  Oh, and I never needed the Goretex rain pants, but they hardly take up any space so it's no biggie.

- although I didn't unroll the yoga mat even once, I'm not sorry I brought it, or yoga pants.  Those pants work nicely as lounge-y and sleep wear, super-cozy, and I left the mat behind, for use (we'll see) the next time we're there.

- Some of my ritualistic pre-trip shopping was excess -- I'm glad I left tags on the skirt and tights, since they may just go back -- but I'm not sure I can really jettison the shopping ritual itself since it's so critical a part of my preparations.  Note to self to hang on to the receipts, just in case I realize post-trip (like now) that pre-trip jitters were pushing the cart.

The suitcase is empty now, and I have a few things yet to put away -- shoes to line up just-so in the closet, rolled t-shirts to place back in their spots in the drawer, little ziploc bags of assorted cables and cords to put away.  It's good to sit here amongst the orderly piles and consider the process of moving my life from one place to another -- what I need, what I don't.  To consider what I learned from being there at this particular time of year.

And how next time I'll take less and travel a little lighter, now that I know more what it takes, and what it doesn't, to hang out for two weeks in early winter mountains and just chill.


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